Netanyahu requests two additional weeks to form Israel government

Netanyahu requests two additional weeks to form Israel government
Benjamin Netanyahu has requested two additional weeks to form Israel's next ruling coalition, amid strong criticism from outgoing prime minister Yair Lapid for his decision to appoint far-right politicians as ministers.
3 min read
09 December, 2022
Benjamin Netanyahu has requested an additional two weeks to form the next Israeli government [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]

Former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked President Isaac Herzog for an additional two weeks to form a new Israeli government, with his current mandate only valid until Saturday night. 

Netanyahu's Likud Party won 32 seats in November's election and has held talks with far-right allies to gain the 61 seats needed to form a coalition government.

The prospect of a Netanhyhu-led government with extremist politicians in ministerial positions has brought huge concerns for parts of the international community.

"Negotiations with other parties are underway and there has been a lot of progress, but according to the pace of progress so far, I will need all the extension days that you have the authority to give me according to the law so that I can form the government," Netanyahu wrote in his request, as quoted by Haaretz

He added that positions in his new government had yet to be determined.

Israeli governments are almost always formed by fractious coalitions, and the country has had five elections in the past three years.

Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving prime minister, having been in power from 2009 to 2021 and 1996 to 1999. 

His Likud party emerged as the biggest victor in the most recent Israeli election and he will likely form a coalition with right-wing extremists Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, both of whom are settler activists. Ben Gvir has in the past called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territories.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid blasted Netanyahu on Friday, saying that his alignment with the far-right extremists is "crazy". He added that Netanyahu is "weak", and alleged he is being "blackmailed" by the PM designate's allies. 

Lapid also called for Israelis to take to the streets to protest against Netanyahu's incoming government. 

Netanyahu is known for his intransigent refusal to withdraw from occupied Palestinian territories and allow the creation of a Palestinian state. His touted coalition partners are viewed as even more extremist than he is.

There are widespread predictions that Israel could launch more deadly assaults against Palestinians in the West Bank under a Netanyahu-led government.

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Earlier this week, Netanyahu denied the existence of the Palestinian people, calling their historic land a "barren mess - a ruin" before the creation of Israel, in an interview with controversial Canadian pundit Jordan Peterson.

The year 2022 has already been the most dangerous year for Palestinians for nearly two decades. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, according to the UN.